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Sara Draycott

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Points for cuteness with the butterflies at Wisley - Cara Smith

Posted by Sara Draycott on 12 Feb 2013 at 11:28 AM

We had our first Malay Lacewing (pictured below) emerge this week, with its beautiful fluted wing edge, and many others followed along with plenty of Tree Nymphs (the balck and white butterfly pictured lower down the page), Blue Morphos and Giant Orange Tips.  The snowy weather has been a challenge as optimum conditions for butterfly flight are bright and sunny and around 26-28°C so for those who dared to venture out in the snow a little more spotting skill and patience was required to spot all of the species (about 26 different ones) we have at the moment.

We did have another visitor to the Glasshouse this week but this particular visitor  was rivalling the butterflies for a bit of attention...  I arrived in the Tropical Zone one morning to perform the usual checks of the emerging cages and did a double-take when, where I would normally expect to see a Blue Morpho or Asian Swallowtail, I saw a little mouse.   

My movements scared it and it ran off, but it was confident enough to return later and I was more sleuth-like and managed to capture it on camera.  It wasn’t long before it scared again and sat on a nearby leaf before disappearing.  Maybe not as striking as a tropical butterfly but it definitely got points for cuteness. Sadly, he's not been seen since.


Because of the low light levels we have upped our pupae numbers from 700 to 900 this week to try to add even more butterflies into the Tropical Zone and keep them visible to visitors – this involved a lot of time spent sticking pupae onto canes, but was definitely preferable to pot washing, another winter job I would probably be doing if I wasn’t sticking pupae. 

If you come to see the butterflies this week and it is a cold, dull day be prepared to spend a little more time spotting than usual. There are plenty of butterflies in the Glasshouse – and if you look carefully you will find them in all their glorious shapes and colours.


tish.sheridan said:

Thanks for sharing, that lacewing is so gorgeous! I visited a couple of days before then, and it was noticeable that a cold grey day (and it being late afternoon) dampened the enthusiasm of the butterflies for flying - but with a little patience I still spotted 12 different species of butterfly! They are wonderful. The glasshouse is such a beautiful place to spend time anyway, it's great to linger a while. More like spotting butterflies in the wild if you have to pay attention too! Thanks for all your hard work, it's a magical experience.

on 25 Feb 2013 at 03:29 PM

Sara Draycott said:

Hi Tish.  Thank you.  We all really enjoy this time of year - the enthusiasm for the butterflies is wonderful, and makes many people - staff and visitors - very happy. Sometimes they can be tricky to spot, but it's all part of the fun. If only we could make the sun come out more often...

on 26 Feb 2013 at 10:13 AM